After a 1.5 year-long hiatus, as the Covid-19 restrictions ease, professionals on the hunt for new business connections have started to gather again!
In-person events are coming back, with 78.3% of event organizers currently planning an in-person event (out of which 31.7% expecting to host an in-person event in the first half of 2022).
That being said, the comeback of in-person events doesn’t mean event planners will be able to ditch virtual hosting platforms, quite the contrary.
Live attendees are notorious for having high expectations, be it a comfortable venue, a service-oriented and welcoming staff, or a good variety of exciting things to do. Moreover, their old needs haven’t changed much, and networking still ranks as their top reason to attend, together with education.
“Attendees are consumers; discerning travelers who may choose to attend conventions & exhibitions — or not." - The Decision to Attend study
Despite its importance, networking is a tough job, and after a long time of social distancing, it surely isn’t easy to step into a crowded venue and begin to connect with dozens of strangers all over again.
That’s where event networking apps can tip the scale between hundreds of frustrated people fumbling between uncertain handshakes and awkward elbow bumps to an orderly community of professionals engaging in valuable interactions.
But what is precisely an event networking app?
An event networking app is a matchmaking feature designed to facilitate and optimize structured networking by connecting attendees with matching interests.
Event networking apps run on an event hosting platform that provides the admins (event planners) with all the tools they need to host the event and manage the user (attendee) experience. Your attendees can easily access the networking app on their electronic devices to book meetings and engage with their connections before and during the event.
And how does a networking app work?
It all starts with a key component: AI-powered matchmaking technology. In a few clicks, your attendees can create a personal profile making sure to select their areas of interest and reasons to attend. The AI does the rest by analyzing thousands of data points and connecting the top matches in a matter of seconds. Once they are matched, your attendees can proceed to suggest and schedule their meetings.
All in all, a networking app is one of the key tools your event tech stack needs, as it simplifies and speeds up quality networking to the maximum extent possible. All relevant connections are identified and delivered straight to your attendees in a matter of seconds, which means less stress and more time for you to take care of your hectic to-do lists, and tally a great competitive advantage.
Now the question is, why are event networking apps not only beneficial but often crucial to the success of your in-person events?
1. Event networking apps easily match and connect attendees.
Close your eyes and visualize hundreds of attendees walking around a crowded venue and engaging in casual conversation. It might be someone’s lucky day to find new meaningful connections, but for others, those random coffee-break chats won’t turn into anything long-lasting nor fruitful.
Finding valuable networking opportunities at an in-person event shouldn’t be like playing the lottery (sometimes you win, more often than not you lose), and a lack of new connections will negatively impact attendee satisfaction, which in turn, will lower your CSAT scores.
Also, your attendees might not be so open to networking with strangers as they think they are. In 2007, two researchers at Columbia University conducted a study on socializing dynamics at a mixer attended by 100 participants. The study revealed that nearly all participants spent most of their time interacting with their pre-mixer friends (even though 95% of the study group had stated their goal was to network and make new connections).
It’s in your best interest to foster networking, and what if we told you that you could match your attendees with relevant connections without breaking a sweat?
Once your attendees create their profiles on the event hosting platform, it only takes seconds for AI-powered matchmaking software to filter thousands of users and match them with their top connections (for instance, it will match a job seeker in a certain field with a prospective employer in the same field, a seller with a potential buyer, and so on).
This works wonders for all event formats, be it in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Not to mention, an event networking app is a strong backup plan to have in case some of your attendees cannot make it to the venue.
Now you can see how a networking app enables quality networking and makes it as easy as it can be! A networking platform like Brella’s also allows users to request and book 1:1 meetings based on available timeslots, message their matches, and live chat up to two weeks before the event. Find out more on how to bring matchmaking to your events here.
And for a real-life example of the power of matchmaking in action, take a look at the success story of Nordic Business Forum. After experiencing some daunting networking efficiency problems, with the help of Brella’s matchmaking software, they were able to connect their thousands of attendees with meaningful matches and reported a staggering 75% of attendees scheduling meetings before the event date.
2. Event networking apps boost event engagement and attendee retention.
Engagement: the magic word that will turn any event - no matter the format - into an absolute triumph.
Engagement happens when attendees turn from simple spectators into actors, and it’s the new North star metric of the event industry. Attendees’ expectations have evolved, and having them sit down and listen to speakers for hours won’t suffice anymore.
Besides, when every attendee is connected with top-matches only, and they can easily schedule all the 1:1s for the day via an event networking app, there will not only be more meetings (in other words, more engagement) but the time reserved for those meetings will be well invested.
With Brella, your attendees can engage with other participants up to two weeks before the event. This gives them plenty of time to browse through their list of business connections, find out more about them, interact with them, and schedule their meetings before the event.
And what will this lead to?
Engaged attendees get much more out of the event, scoring higher CSAT ratings, more recommendations for future events, and of course, happy attendees are more likely to return for more. Overall, facilitated networking can boost ticket retention up to four times. For instance, Nordic Business Forum collected insightful data showing that 1 out of 2 Brella users returned to next year's event, compared to 1 out of 3 non-Brella users.
3. EventNetworking apps provide you with solid data and statistics post-event.
Why do busy professionals decide to invest their time to attend an event?
Are they looking for networking opportunities? Do they want to upgrade their career or maybe be mentors? Are they looking to promote and sell their services? Do they want to learn new things and get more insights on a topic? Do they want to ask questions and most importantly find answers?
The list goes on and on, but ultimately, you should be able to answer this one question: what is your attendees' main goal?
An event hosting platform like Brella comes equipped with key tools to monitor and measure the level of attendee engagement. Event analytics and reporting will allow you to pinpoint all the trending topics with the help of reliable numerical insights. You will also be able to measure attendees’ behavior and feedback, getting a clear picture of what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved.
All in all, this tool will help you upgrade your attendees’ experience and plan successful future events tailored to their needs and interests.
Thanks to Brella’s AI-powered matchmaking software, Lendit Fintech (the largest media and events company dedicated to innovation in lending and digital banking) was able to host over 22,000 meaningful networking experiences over five years, solidifying their position as the leading fintech conference in the world.
"[Networking] is super important to us because it adds life to the show floor. Networking is, in fact, one of the only reasons why we have events." - Bo Brustkern, co-founder & CEO of LendIt Fintech
And when it comes to leveraging valuable event data, the benefits don’t end here. That leads us to the next point!
4. Event networking apps generate higher ROI for sponsors.
Sponsors finance your events to increase their visibility, generate new quality leads, boost sales, and of course, score solid ROI (return on investment).
Event networking apps are a profitable tool for your sponsors as they can enhance their visibility to relevant buyers and help them connect. The process is the same as with your attendees, the matchmaking feature sorts through thousands of participants in a matter of seconds and matches your sponsors with all of their prospective clients.
Thanks to matchmaking, sponsors can collect top leads (while also gathering plenty of valuable data and stats), connect with new potential buyers, and schedule more meetings.
Brella’s AI-powered networking software can achieve this and more, by connecting your sponsors with quality leads long before the event. This way, they can engage and book meetings in advance, avoiding chaotic crowds around the booth on the day of the event and plenty of missed opportunities.
Nordic Business Forum unleashed the full potential of matchmaking between attendees and sponsors, reporting that exhibitors who could schedule profitable meetings through AI-matchmaking technology were 3 times more likely to come back. You can read the complete report here.
5. Event networking apps work as a safety net for any potential setback.
In-person events are coming back, but one essential lesson professionals of the event industry have learned in 2020, is always to have a virtual solution at hand. The pandemic wanes and the social restrictions are easing off, but even so, travel disruptions might still happen. Only think about a natural catastrophe or other unforeseen disruptions (like the SAS pilots’ strike in 2019 who left tens of thousands of passengers stranded).
But enough about calamities, what if luck is on your side instead? Think about this: what happens if your venue cast host 300 attendees but a few weeks before the event you find out 100 more want to attend? Unfortunately, the in-person format comes with a few downsides, and the capacity of your venue is one of them.
That being said, we don't see any reasons why you shouldn't open the doors to a wider audience!
A virtual event hosting platform equipped with a reliable networking app is the perfect plan B for your in-person events. Even if the venue becomes off-limit (or you end up with way more attendees than your venue can take), you can host the entire event virtually or decide to go hybrid.
This way 100% of your attendees will still be able to participate, connect, and engage with their top matches - no matter what setback or fortune you encounter on the way!
In conclusion, as the social restrictions ease off, the event industry is shifting back to in-person events. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot rely on an event networking app to boost your success rate and ticket retention.
Nowadays, AI-powered matchmaking technology isn’t only a little trick up your sleeve but is often an absolute must-have to thrive in one of the most competitive industries. Relying on a networking app will facilitate 1:1 meetings and match attendees with their best connections, boost engagement and retention, generate higher ROI for sponsors, and provide both you and your sponsors with relevant event-related data and statistics.
Brella is the leader in AI-powered matchmaking technology, so make sure to check out our matchmaking & networking feature!
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